Doctor Who: Flux – the amusing story of how a Sontaran Commander got his horse

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“The Crimean skirmish seems the perfect place to start. So much conflict. So much opportunity. And also… I wanted to ride a horse.” – Commander Ritskaw

The memorable image of Sontaran Commander Ritskaw on horseback in the Doctor Who: Flux episode War of the Sontarans was the idea of director Jamie Magnus Stone, according to an interview with the director in Doctor Who Magazine 572.

“In the first draft of the script, when the first Sontaran patrol arrived, there were thousands of them,” Stone explained in Doctor Who Magazine. “I knew we wouldn’t be able to spend loads on having thousands of Sontarans at the start and in the army scenes later, so I thought it’d be better to keep our powder dry and save that larger-scale reveal. But as a means of compensating and still giving their arrival impact – and given this episode’s a period piece – I thought, ‘Bung them on a horse!’”

The director put together a ‘Crimean Horse Plan’ and presented it to showrunner Chris Chibnall.

“I fought for that horse,” Stone proudly explained to DWM. “I did a very rough-and-ready Photoshop of a classic Sontaran toy on a horse with an explanation of why I thought it’d be a fun way of introducing them.”

If his photoshop looks as if it includes a painting, it is because the period cavalry horse detail is borrowed from Alphonse-Marie-Adolphe de Neuville’s oil painting titled A Cavalryman which now hangs in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The toys appear to be action figures from The Sontarans Collector Figure Set from Character Options.

Veteran film horse Zaleno from Dolbadarn Film Horses bears an uncanny resemblance to the cavalry horse in the de Neuville painting. Sontar-ha!

Doctor Who Magazine 572 is available at newsstands and by digital issue Thursday, December 9.